'I am totally against it'
Hendricks disapproves of franchise-based regional tourney
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Former West Indies wicketkeeper, Jackie Hendriks, believes the staging of the upcoming regional four-day tournament using a franchise team system is a bad idea.
The former West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) director said this is based on what he has heard as reasons for the staging of the tournament.
"I am not in full knowledge of all the facts, as I have only heard things by the way, and what I have heard, I am totally against it," said Hendriks.
"I understand the goal of the franchise system, but what I think is, we are destroying the territorial integrity of the West Indies."
The WICB, in announcing the ensuing change earlier this year, said the franchise team restructuring was designed to, among other things, raise playing standards and better compensate players.
However, according to Hendriks, while he favours players earning more and improved standards, the objectives that are being proposed could be achieved using the existing territorial team format.
"I know some teams are weaker than the others at the moment, which has always been the case over the years.
"But it has always been the responsibility of the various territorial boards to put in place ways and means of improving their cricket.
"I don't think this (franchising) is the best way of improving our cricket. In fact, I think what we are doing is reducing the cricket down to one level."
Hendriks, a former president of the Jamaica Cricket Association, also went on to point out other areas in which he believed the WICB should focus their attempts at improving playing standards.
These, he said, should include hiring of qualified overseas coaches, experienced pitch professionals and the establishment of more effective club leagues.
"I think that what is needed more than anything else is proper coaching, and not to radically change the whole outlook and aspects of our cricket," highlighted Hendriks.
"I think our cricket would improve if the territories were to properly examine the way they prepare their players, by getting coaches, for example, from overseas, who can take their cricket to a higher level.
"Jamaica, for example, had a coach like Australian Bobby Simpson out here for three years and a lot of the players who came under his tuition have performed well.
"These include Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Wavell Hinds, Carlton Baugh, Tamar Lambert, and a number of the players who recently participated in the country's run of five consecutive four-day titles."
He added: "Then, there is the problem of poor pitches, which affects performances and causes matches to end inside two and three days. What the WICB needs, is to address this matter up front, even if it means hiring overseas experts."
Other factors that Hendriks outlined as reasons why regional first-class cricket has gradually declined include the constant absence of established West Indies players, due to increased international duties, and the explosion of Twenty20 cricket.
Hendriks, who represented Jamaica during the establishment of territorial cricket in the 1950s and 1960s, is calling on the WICB to be more up front with regards to the planned changes.
"I don't think many people in the West Indies realise the tremendous change in the cricket that is forthcoming than they are accustomed to over the years," he said.
"The WICB, therefore, has a responsibility to come out and properly explain to the West Indies fans exactly what they plan to do."
The 2014-2015 regional four-day season is set to get under way in mid-November with the six traditional territorial teams being replaced by territorial-based franchises.
The franchise teams, to be renamed, will be owned and operated by the various territorial boards.